61 Comments

Love this! I'm looking for a book or series to recommend to someone who loves heists and fantasy combos like Lies of Locke Lamora, Misborn, and the Palace Job. She'll take any great book but does prefer a strong central female character.

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Assuming she's read Six of Crows? If not, start there. Some other options: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab and Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher.

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Just looked those up. Holiday reading list is now set!!

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Husband (of course) who mostly likes speculative science fiction (i.e. Three Body Problem), but also somehow that three-part, trillion-page biography of Teddy Roosevelt that won a Pulitzer several decades ago...? He also reads REALLY slowly so new books are a commitment.

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Would totally recommend VERSION CONTROL by Dexter Palmer! Near-future sci-fi about a husband and wife and a secret science experiment gone wrong!

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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. I haven’t read it, but my husband is in the middle of it and enjoying it. It has a sci-fi vibe

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Thank you!

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This is an interesting and tricky one. I don't read a lot of speculative fiction so I'm not sure I can help there.

But, the Teddy Roosevelt book gives me a place to start. If he still has an itch for more Teddy books, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard is great. Her book on the assassination of James Garfield, Destiny of the Republic, also comes to mind. It combines the history of germ theory with the political machinations around Garfield's death.

Robert Caro's Working might also be of interest. He goes into what it takes to write a giant historical tome.

If none of these sound right, let me know and I'll keep thinking!

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Nov 19, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

Someone who needs their attention grabbed and pulled into the book. Generally likes books in the espionage, scifi, light fantasy, and magic spaces.

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So, our favorite genres don't overlap super well, but I have a couple of options that might work for you:

- Blacktop Wasteland (crime, not espionage, but lots of action)

- Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (secret societies, ciphers and some commentary on books in tech-based world you might like)

- Who is Vera Kelly? By Rosalie Knecht (unconventional take on the traditional spy novel. this feels like a stretch for what you asked for but I thought I'd throw it in )

- Winter Counts start with a vigilante attacking a child molester and goes from there

- The Feather Thief has a really strong opening

I haven't read The Murderbot Diaries yet, but people swear by them and I think they might be exactly what you're looking for.

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Yes on Murderbot Diaries!

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Nov 19, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

For espionage I love most stuff by Ben Macintyre. Funny suspenseful, full of odd characters and very engagingly written (all non fiction)

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Ooh! Thanks!

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Nov 19, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

best friend who likes fiction/literature but has very little time to read. has to be a "can't put it down" kind of fiction

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I like propulsive books that trick you into thinking: The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid and Self Care by Leigh Stein all come to mind.

Another great option for people with limited time are short stories and essay collections. They're designed to be read in short increments and can give you a sense of accomplishment. Some favorites include: The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw, My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson and Here For It by R. Eric Smith.

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Thank you:-)

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Nov 19, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

Secret History, Donna Tartt

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Nov 19, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

Thank you

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Nov 24, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

My book club friend who is looking for a gripping book. She has been in a book rut lately and nothing is speaking to her. Typically likes literary fiction she had a big Jacqueline Woodson phase, loves Salley Rooney (minus Conversations with friends), help!

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Just about everyone in our book club rates Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief as one of the best books ever. Also, try After She Wrote Him by Sulari Gentill - it's quite unlike anything else I've ever read!

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Has she read The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton? If not, I'd start there. It's a novel written as an oral history of a '70s rock duo featuring a Black woman and white British man. It's propulsive, fun and thought provoking.

I also think a few of the books I've recommended below might work here (The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid and Self Care by Leigh Stein and Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden).

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Nov 24, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

Thank you!

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Nov 20, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

Thank you for this! My daughter reads a lot of nonfiction; historical or political but wants to start reading novels. Most recent books were How the South Won the Civil War and Hiding in Plain Sight. Help!

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oh! Also! The Vera Kelly mysteries! Set in the 1950s. Lots of political intrigue.

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Hi! Here are a couple of novels with political and historical themes:

- The Historian: I recommended this last week. It includes a lot of discussion about how History (with a capital H) is written and constructed.

- Deacon King Kong: Novel set in a 1960s NY low-income apartment

- Winter Counts by David Heska Weiden: Mystery set on a Native American reservation

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Nov 21, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

Thank you!

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Nov 19, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

My father-in-law loves Western history and non-fiction (his favorite fiction book is Lonesome Dove). I've randomly found him books on some more unknown topics in the past he liked but feel like I'm always googling "good western non-fiction" this time of year so would love a rec!

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Maybe "The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present"? "The Indifferent Stars Above" is a great history of the Donner Party. And Sally Denton's The Profiteers is a quirky take on this ask, but it could work.

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Nov 22, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

I loved The Indifferent Stars above and can't believe I didn't think of that for him. Will also check out the others. Thanks!

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author

Excellent. Sometimes we're too close to the right book to think of it.

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This is amazing, thank you! My cousin is so hard to shop for because he reads 200+ books per year. He can devour 800 pages in an afternoon. So everything I try to buy him he’s already read! He loves psychology and history, and he reads a lot of science fiction. If you have any obscure-ish suggestions it would help me so much!

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So funny you ask this: I've mentioned Sounds Like Titanic as an under-the-radar pick for book lovers in conversations with friends four times in the last three days. It's a memoir, but I think would touch on his interest in psychology and history. I'll also throw out The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist, which is a great nonfiction book about the history of medical examiners and how pseudoscience is used to wrongfully convict innocent people.

You also set me up to plug Reading Under the Radar, a new book newsletter focused on highlighting books that deserve more buzz. https://readingundertheradar.substack.com/

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Nov 19, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

Someone who loved The Secret History and The Goldfinch. Also A Little Life. Books that have this grand epic literary sort of feel to them or some dark academia vibe. Another book she liked was Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith. So immersive whodunit as well.

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Hi Ishee! For fans of A Little Life, I always recommend Rebecca Makkai's The Great Believers, which is similarly devastating.

For dark academia: Temple House Vanishing

For epic literary feel meets whodunnit, check out Long Bright River by Liz Moore

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Thank you! Much appreciated

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Nov 19, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

A good friend who is into craft beers and breweries….

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So, I haven't read it yet, but Girly Drinks: A History of Women and Alcohol is getting great reviews. https://bookshop.org/books/girly-drinks-a-world-history-of-women-and-alcohol-9781799959281/9781335282408

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Nov 22, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

I just picked up Girly Drinks this weekend (for myself!). I can't wait to dive into it.

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Yay! Please report back Susan.

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Nov 19, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

Thank you! It sounds like a great read!

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A man who knows every Sherlock Holmes story by heart, has read tons of fan fiction and is always on the hunt for writers who can take the characters and do something special with them. Or if someone has come up with a really good modern-day Holmes and Watson type, that might be good too?

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I sympathize! My copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes (that I stole from my dad) is falling apart from use. Some books to consider:

- Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul Jabaar (yes, that Kareem Abdul Jabbar

- Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

- Hawthorne and Horowitz series also by Anthony Horowitz (I would start here. Horowitz wrote a fictional series starring fictional version of himself as a Watson-type figure)

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Perfect! He has read the Jabbar books but I don't know about Horowitz.

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Looking for a book for my dad. He liked Bad Blood and Destiny of the Republic. Would love a shorter narrative nonfiction to give him that isn’t overly political or dry history. Thanks in advance!

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author

Oooh! Narrative nonfiction is one of my favorite genres (maybe my favorite?) and those are two great ones. Some options:

- Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

- The Feather Thief by Kirk Johnson

- Furious Hours by Casey Ceps

- Hidden Valley Roady by Robert Kolker (author of the viral Bad Art Friend essay)

Let me know if he's read all these and I'll offer some more.

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Nov 19, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

Say Nothing is fantastic!

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One of my faves!!

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My mom! she likes historical fiction and mysteries. Something British would be welcome--she's into Downtown Abbey, The Crown etc.

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Ahh! I feel like this was a problem designed for me to solve.

First off: The Windsor Knot is the Crown meets Midsomer Murders. I wrote about it here: https://whattoreadif.substack.com/p/youre-running-low-on-pandemic-tv

The Maisie Dobbs mysteries would also be perfect for her. Long series that follows a private detective between WWI and WWII. The Verity Kent mysteries are set in the same time period.

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she loves Maisie Dobbs, so good guess on that one :) The Windsor Knot seems like the perfect fit! Thanks for the recommendations.

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Nov 20, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

I devoured The Windsor Knot on your recommendation and have told so many folks about it. Such a delight - can’t wait for the next one!

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Yay! I love hearing success stories! I’m very excited for book two!

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Read The Windsor Knot on your recommendation and loved it!

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Nov 19, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

Has she read any of Sharon Kay Penman's books? They're all set in the medieval period but they're so, so very good. She does use comma splices, which always takes me a few chapters to adjust to, but it's worth it. My favorite is The Sunne in Splendour, about Richard III.

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Nov 19, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

Orhan Pamuk's My Name Is Red

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Cool post! Looking for book recs for someone who is into the "dystopian battle royale" genre. Books like Battle Royale, Ready Player One, or Hunger Games.

This person also loves Japanese culture as well.

Thanks again!

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So, I asked a librarian friend for help on this one. She suggests Scythe by Neal Shusterman!

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Nov 23, 2021Liked by Elizabeth

Thank you, I'll check it out!

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I'm looking for a fantasy book similar to the Kingkiller Chronicle and Lies of Locke Lamora, with a strong female character. (A lot like a few other comments I've seen below, actually!)

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Have you read Fonda Lee's Jade City or Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves? If not, try those!

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I haven't, I'll check them out. Thanks!

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